Surfing in a snowstorm may sound like a direct route toward hypothermia or certain death. But on Lake Superior, where surfers ride all months of the year, thick wet suits, gloves, hoods, booties and petroleum jelly smudged on exposed skin all form a protective shell against the crushing cold encountered by wave catchers in what is one of the worlds most unlikely surfing scenes.
in today's New York Times. All around the Great Lakes, from breaks on Lake Michigan to western New York and Lake Eries shore, a freshwater surfing scene has emerged in recent years. On Lake Superior, where winds swoop hundreds of miles across open water, surfers swim and paddle year-round to ride waves as tall as 20 feet, rushing tsunamis tumbling on an inland sea.
photo: TC Worley
Each fall, Lake Superiors famous gales of November signal the start of the cold-weather surfing season, when snow piles up in the forest and waves pop off the lake. Wind moving from a Canadian front, coursing south and west against Minnesotas North Shore, pushes water into rhythmic waves at more than a dozen breaks along Minnesotas lake-hugging U.S. Highway 61.